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730 Evaluation: Custody Evaluation Responsibilities

Within the 2005 California Rules of Court Rule 5.220 Court-Ordered Custody Evaluations are guidelines that outline the responsibility for evaluation services. Subdivision (d) of this rule describes the responsibility for evaluation services as follows:

(d) Responsibility for evaluation services
(1) Each court must:
(A) Adopt local rule within one year of this rule's effective date to:
(i) Implement this rule of court;
(ii) Determine whether a peremptory challenge to a court-appointed evaluator is allowed and when the challenge must be exercised. The rules must specify whether a family court services staff member, other county employee, a mental health professional, or all of them may be challenged;
(iii) Allow evaluators to petition the court to withdraw from a case;
(iv) Provide for acceptance of and response to complaints about an evaluator's performance; and
(v) Address ex parte communications.
(B) Give the evaluator, before the evaluation begins, a copy of the court order that specifies:
(i) The appointment of the evaluator under Evidence Code section 730, Family Code section 3110, or Code of Civil Procedure 2032; and
(ii) The purpose and scope of the evaluation.
(C) Require child custody evaluators to adhere to the requirements of this rule.
(D) Determine and allocate between the parties any fees or costs of the evaluation.
(2) The child custody evaluator must:
(A) Consider the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of the child within the scope and purpose of the evaluation as defined by the court order;
(B) Strive to minimize the potential for psychological trauma to children during the evaluation process; and
(C) Include in the initial meeting with each child an age-appropriate explanation of the evaluation process, including limitations on the confidentiality of the process.
(Subd (d) amended effective January 1, 2003.)
Within the 2005 California Rules of Court Rule 5.225 education, training, and experience standards for court-appointed child custody investigators and evaluators are guidelines that outline the responsibility of the courts. Subdivision (k) of this rule describes the courts responsibilities as follows:
(k) Responsibility of the courts
Each court:
(1) Must develop local court rules that:
(A) Provide for acceptance of and response to complaints about an evaluator's performance, and
(B) Establish a process for informing the public about how to find qualified evaluators in that jurisdiction;
(2) Must use the Judicial Council form Order Appointing Child Custody Evaluator (FL-327) to appoint a private child custody evaluator or a court-connected evaluation service. Form FL-327 may be supplemented with local court forms;
(3) Must provide the Judicial Council with a copy of any local court forms used to implement this rule; and,
(4) As feasible and appropriate, may confer with education and training providers to develop and deliver curricula of comparable quality and relevance to child custody evaluations for both court-connected and private child custody evaluators.
(Subd (k) amended and relettered effective January 1, 2005; adopted as subd (l) effective January 1, 2002.)

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